Symantec CEO plans layoffs, no asset sales

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:11am IST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Symantec Corp, which completed a strategic review in January, plans to lay off a significant number of managers and reorganize internally into 10 main business areas, but has decided not to sell off major assets for now.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Bennett told Reuters in an exclusive interview that Janice Chaffin, consumer business president, will leave the company as part of the restructuring, which will usher in 10 product-focused divisions including security, cloud and backup software.

Bennett, brought onboard last year with a mandate to turn around the faltering security software specialist, also said the company will pay out its first-ever dividend starting next quarter, targeting a 2.5 percent yield based on its January 22 closing price of $20.86.

"We looked at five different scenarios and modeled them all and talked about them all," Bennett said in an exclusive interview. They included divesting specific units among Symantec's portfolio such as a highly profitable consumer anti-virus business and a sluggish storage management and backup software unit.

"We can create a lot more value by running the company," Bennett told Reuters in the interview ahead of a meeting with analysts on Wednesday afternoon.

The former head of Intuit Inc and a General Electric veteran would not say how many managers would be laid off, but managers at his company on average have fewer than five people reporting to them among the comany's 20,000 employees. That is about half as many as managers at a typical company, he noted.

Symantec expects $275 million in severance payments as a result of the layoffs, which will be conducted through June.

Bennett replaced Enrique Salem as CEO in July and vowed to turn around Symantec, saying he would apply lessons he learned from the GE corporate playbook during the more than two decades he managed a variety of the industrial conglomerate's businesses.

Details of the company's restructuring came the same day Symantec reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations and said it was splitting the chief executive and chairman jobs.

The company's shares were holding steady at $21.66 in after-hours trade, from a close of $21.46 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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